To gain alignment, explain your answers to the following Fundamental Four Questions. These are questions that every employee asks, regardless of whether you hear them:

  1.  Where are we going? (Goals)
  2.  What are we doing to get there? (Plans)
  3. How can I contribute? (Roles)
  4. What's in it for me? (Rewards--social, professional, emotional, and financial)

Like any aspect of leadership, gaining alignment does not just happen. It must be intentional. Our late friend and inspiring coach Ron Rossetti liked to say, "Awesomeness is never accidental." Our clients who paint a clear picture for their teams are intentional about answering the Fundamental Four Questions. They use the questions as a checklist to ensure that the content of significant company communications addresses each question. The alignment in their organizations is notably greater, and their results are notably better.

Answering the Fundamental Four Questions creates a bridge that connects today's tasks to the broader team purpose. Inspiring coaches help their teams see and understand the longer-term, downstream impact of their personal performance on team results, on the organization, on customers, on shareholders, and ultimately on themselves (What's in it for me?).

When employees see how their actions help or hinder others, it aligns their performance with clear consequences. The personal impact to an employee might include opportunities for promotions, development, exposure to executives, public recognition, expanded responsibilities, flexibility in the job, oversight of others, ownership of projects, and/or financial rewards.

In addition to formal communication, explain expectations for your team with each informal communication. For example, you can pop into their workspace or call remote team members to see how they are doing. 

With today's information-overloaded workplace, it can be challenging to decide what to communicate to employees and what to withhold. It's easy to say (usually to yourself) "They don't really need to know all that," or "My team won't really understand," or "I don't think they can handle that news right now." Be cautious because those who underestimate the intelligence of others tend to overestimate their own.